Dynamics of Carbohydrate Affinities at the Cell Surface: INTRODUCTION(1)
Sperm cells are stored in the oviduct of mammalian species during estrus. Bovine sperm cells actively attach to ciliated epithelial cells with the apical part of the sperm head surface. Sperm cells remain attached until the time of ovulation, when, under not-yet-characterized conditions, they will be released and are capable of fertilizing the oocyte (capacitated). Indeed, only uncapacitated and ac-rosome-intact sperm cells appear to bind to the oviductal epithelium in vitro and in vivo. Bovine, equine, and porcine sperm cells released from the oviductal epithelium have a capacitation-specific chlortetracycline (CTC) staining pattern.
Apical head plasma membranes of rabbit spermatozoa can bind to isolated apical plasma membranes of oviductal epithelial cells. Incubation of rabbit, bovine, or equine sperm with apical plasma membranes of oviductal epithelia prolonged the sperm longevity, probably by keeping the cytoplasmic free Ca2+ levels in these sperm cells low.
Initial steps have been made to characterize the sperm cell binding to the epithelia of the oviduct. This interaction seems to be mediated by carbohydrate ligands in a species-specific manner.